DENR bans pocket mining in Benguet –
BAGUIO CITY — Aside from sealing the hazardous mine tunnels, the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here ordered a total ban on small-scale mining activities in sitio Luneta, Antamok, Itogon, Benguet to save the lives of miners who are exposed to extreme danger.
Because of the snowballing concern among concerned agencies and various sectors to stop pocket mining activities in identified hazardous places in Itogon town, various groups vowed to comply with government orders to stop their illegal activities issued last year provided the national and local governments will help them look for alternative sources of livelihood.
Earlier, the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) identified portions of land along the Antamok River as high-risk areas because of highly fractured soil and rock formations.
The action of the DENR-CAR came after Environment Secretary Joracio C. Ramos directed concerned agencies to investigate the alleged flooding and collapse of a mine tunnel that resulted in the death of three pocket miners who were trapped inside the tunnel.
At the same time, Ramos appealed to local residents to refrain from entering the underground tunnel of the Benguet Corporation in sitio Luneta.
The MGB-CAR report recommended that the special mining permits shall only be valid until the end of June this year and that the same shall be subsequently converted to regular small-scale mining permits unless basic recommendations have been complied with.
The controversial mining area, which has been declared as hazardous, is currently being managed by the Luneta Small-Scale Miners Association.
However, many pocket miners still continue their small-scale mining activities to earn a living despite the dangers.